Uncle Jesse and My Grandfather McGill

There is a person in each of our lives who has a tremendous impact on us. For me, it was my grandfather. As a matter of fact, he inspired much of who you know Uncle Jesse to be on Dukes.

My grandfather, Franklin McGill, was a teller of tales. Country folk loved him; he had a way of sharing adventures that pulled you in and made you want to hear more. An Irishman, he had a wit about him that made every story hilarious, with possible embellishments that family and friends didn’t question or mind.

One of the stories he told time and again was about my uncle, when he was six years old. He made him drive horses down to a rail station in Foster, Kentucky to bring back feed. It was a precarious, steep road with a massive drop. (Imagine sending out your six-year-old to fetch anything on horseback on a single-person trail set on a cliff!) The depot workers asked my grandfather how he could trust the boy on such a road, wasn’t he worried? He casually responded, “You didn’t know the horses! I could’ve sent them alone!” This reinforced his belief that a well-trained animal could be trusted more than any human he knew, six-years-old or any age.

Grandfather McGill was a strong man. He shared stories about the Civil War. He had a massive stroke that left him half-paralyzed and partially blind yet he had unrelenting strength despite his physical challenges. With sage-like wisdom about any and all moral questions, I knew I was in good hands taking my problems to him. He always had an answer, but didn’t always have to be right. Humility came naturally to him, even with his tall tales.

His legacy lives on in my generation and of course in our beloved Uncle Jesse. Grandfather McGill had a major impact on my children and their children, all who have my grandfather’s ability to tell a story that draws a crowd.

Who has strongly influenced you?

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